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Father in notorious 2014 hot car death back in court hoping for new trial

Justin Ross Harris, 40, was found guilty for murdering his 22-month-old son, Cooper, after leaving him in a hot car for about seven hours in 2014.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla — The video above was published in November 2016.

One of the most notorious court cases in Cobb County, Ga. is back in the spotlight Monday as lawyers for Justin Ross Harris argue for a new trial.

Harris, 40, was found guilty in 2016 of murdering his 22-month-old son, Cooper, by leaving him in a hot car on June 18, 2014.

That day, Cooper's lifeless body was found in the rear-facing car seat in the back of Harris' SUV. Harris didn't call for help until about seven hours later, police said.

An investigation into the incident revealed Harris and Cooper went to breakfast before the former Home Depot web developer parked his SUV about a mile away from the restaurant and went to work at his office. Harris was supposed to drop Cooper off at daycare.

Harris entered his vehicle around lunchtime to drop off some bulbs, but it's unknown if he noticed his son during that time, police said. In the afternoon, Harris hopped in his SUV and was headed to the local movie theater, but pulled over and called authorities about his son, police said.

Cooper's autopsy report showed he died of hyperthermia. Harris claimed his son's death was an accident and still maintains his innocence.

Credit: 11Alive
Justin (Ross) and Cooper Harris

On Monday, Harris' lawyers will begin arguing for a new trial virtually, claiming that evidence was wrongly admitted and questions during his trial weren't permitted. They claim this led to an unfair trial.

In 2016, Cobb County Superior Court Judge Mary Staley Clark moved the trial 275 miles to Brunswick citing pretrial publicity in the Atlanta area. 

Defense lawyers argued Harris was responsible for Cooper's death, but that it was a tragic accident, one that claims the lives of an average of 38 children a year in the U.S., according to Injury Facts.

Harris' parents also claim prosecutors painted their son as a monster, revealing his extramarital affairs, such as sending sexually explicit text messages to six women, including a picture of his penis to a 16-year-old girl, on the same day Cooper died. 

Prosecutors argued Harris led a double life and intentionally killed his son in order to escape his family responsibilities so he could pursue a life filled with sex with prostitutes and women he met online -- some underage.

Harris was also found guilty of sexual exploitation of children and the dissemination of harmful materials for sexting underage girls. 

The motion for the new trial will continue until Dec. 16.


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